Boundaries: Stay Out, Stay Alive

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” – Prov. 22:3 NLT

There is a hydroelectric dam down by the river where I live, and it’s so interesting to walk the footpath along the riverbank. On the low side of the dam, the water cascades in plumes of white foam into a truly terrifying torrent. But on the on the high side, the water is a perfect calm, calmer than anywhere else on the river.

The water actually looks inviting on the high side of the dam, like you’d want to jump in and go for a swim on a hot summer day. However, there’s a chain-link fence all along the bank that is put there with the intention of keeping people out. On it are big yellow signs that read, “Stay Out, Stay Alive”.

I think most of us know the reason for the fence and signs. While the water may look calm on top, beneath is a mad undertow drawing the river’s water through turbines, which are sure to kill. And so, the fence and signs are a boundary to protect people from the hidden danger.

You and I need boundaries in our lives. For those of us who are pedophiles, our brains are wired in such a way that our sexual attraction is associated with children. Like every human desire, it pushes on you. We must hold our ground, and aim for better things. I don’t think this struggle makes us bad people, rather we are very good people if we stand firm. To succeed, we need to recognize the danger zones.

Thinking of the dam, nobody wants to go for a swim on the low side; you don’t have to warn people to stay out. For us pedophiles, there’s also plenty of white water if you offend: Arrested, home searched, friends/family questioned, your face on the evening news, dangerous years in prison, life-long registration as a sex offender, and the realization that a kid is trying to recover from what you did. It’s a living hell, a place nobody wants to be.

However, before all that happens, the waters can look very inviting… You think to yourself, you imagine, just maybe you can have the chance to live out the desires you’ve felt for so long. The opportunity presents itself, and it’s so hard to say “No”. You resist for a while, but eventually you get a little wet… and then you jump in. And now, it’s too late.

We are human! Part of that means we feel! It’s hard to keep saying “No” to those neurons. But, it’s not impossible; the trick is to aim for something better. If you must fight the current, it helps to have a goal in mind. What are you fighting for? As a Christian, it’s helped me so much to assert, “I want what God has for me more than this.”

But even if we have good goals to works towards, there are moments when we are weak. We slip a little further downstream than we realize, and that’s when we need boundaries. We need that fence and sign that says, “Stay Out, Stay Alive!!!” What are some good boundaries for a pedophile? Here are some examples:

  • Limits on surroundings, such as not being in the bedroom together
  • Limits on physical contact, such as no sitting on your lap, or maybe even hugs
  • Not having personal relationships with kids outside your family
  • Not being alone with any kid

Go ahead and make a tentative list of boundaries for yourself. Think about it and make a commitment. The benefit is that if your head starts to spin and you cross one of your boundaries, you’ll be able to recognize that you’re losing your footing. That way you can get out of the water before you’re in over your head.

The thing about temptation is that the closer you get the more power it has to pull you the rest of the way in. It’s much easier to say “No” earlier on. People often tell me sad stories of how they were overwhelmed in the moment, and now regret what happened. But, the truth is that they made decisions along the way that brought them to that moment. It can happen to anyone!

The Bible says to steer clear of temptation. Proverbs 22:3 says that a prudent person foresees danger and heads the other way, but the simple/foolish person goes right on ahead and suffers for it. In particular, we are told to “flee from sexual immorality”. The story of Joseph illustrates this. Joseph’s master had a wife who favored him. She would call him into the house for chores, and try to seduce him. Joseph’s response was, “How could I do this great evil and sin against God?” One day, she even grabbed him by the coat, but Joseph wriggled out of it and ran. No doubt she was attractive and he was tempted, but he didn’t stay around and let the moment get the best of him.

You and I need to get the heck away from bad situations. Don’t toy with temptation, because it might lead you to an overwhelming scenario. That’s why it’s important to have boundaries that keep you several steps away from hurting a kid (i.e. not being alone together, not hugging). You have to decide for yourself what’s necessary to keep you safe, as do I. But together, we can live for better things.

God loves us, isn’t ashamed of us, and has a future for us. Your life is worth protecting. So when it comes to dams and temptation: STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE

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